Antibiotic innovation for future public health needs

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2017 Oct;23(10):713-717. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2017.06.020. Epub 2017 Jun 24.


Background: The public health threat of antibiotic resistance has gained attention at the highest political levels globally, and recommendations on how to respond are being considered for implementation. Among the recommended responses being explored for their feasibility is the introduction of economic incentives to promote research and development of new antibiotics. There is broad agreement that public investment should stimulate innovation and be linked to policies promoting sustainable and equitable access to antibiotics. Though commonly used, the term 'innovation' is not based on a common understanding.

Aims: This article aims to initiate discussion on the meaning of 'innovation' in this context.

Sources: Literature and expert opinion.

Content: As the definition of a novel class (novel scaffold, novel pharmacophore), a novel target (novel binding site) and a novel mode of action-the three traditional criteria for 'innovation' in this context-may be confounded by the complexities of antibacterial drug discovery, a biological and outcome-oriented definition of innovation is presented to initiate discussion. Such an expanded definition of innovation in this specific context is based on the overarching requirement that a drug not be affected by cross-resistance to existing drugs in the organisms and indications for which it is intended to be used, and that it have low potential for high-frequency, high-level single-step resistance if intended as a single drug therapy.

Implications: Policy makers, public health authorities and funders could use such a comprehensive definition of innovation to prioritize where publicly funded incentives should be applied.

Keywords: Antibiotic; Cross-resistance; Discovery; Innovation; Resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Capital Financing
  • Drug Discovery / economics
  • Drug Discovery / trends*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Inventions / economics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents